Lake Wales Ridge Wildlife and Environmental Area

The Lake Wales Ridge Wildlife and Environmental Area consists of 19 separate tracts scattered along 75 miles of the Lake Wales Ridge. Since the ridge averages less than 10 miles wide throughout its length, the tracts with few exceptions are within a few miles of U.S. 27. The ridge was isolated from other parts of the Florida peninsula during periods of sea level rise over the millennia.

photo of Lake Wales Ridge

On the ancient shorelines and dunes, plants and animals found nowhere else on earth evolved. Twenty-two species of plants and five species of animals found here are so rare that they are protected by the federal government. Here you find the Florida scrub-jay, the sand skink, and the Lake Placid scrub mint, whose insect repellent properties have only recently been discovered. You can get involved in protecting these rare plants and animals by joining the Ridge Rangers volunteer program.

Roughly eighty-five percent of the land on the ridge has been developed, first for citrus groves and cattle ranches and more recently for residences. This area was acquired to preserve and perpetuate remaining natural areas, and thus recreational uses are limited to those consistent with this goal. The Lake Placid Scrub tract is divided into three sections (west, central and east) by paved roads. Horseback riding is allowed in the west and central sections by permit only.  Horseback riding is also allowed at the Carter Creek tract by permit only and the Royce Unit (no permit required).  To apply for a horseback riding permit for the Lake Placid Scrub and Carter Creek tracts, visit  Hiking and biking are allowed in the Lake Placid Scrub tract, Carter Creek tract and Royce Unit.  There is parking at all three locations.


FWC Facts:
Whooping cranes eat aquatic invertebrates (insects, crustaceans and mollusks), small vertebrates (fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals), roots, acorns and berries.

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